Finale favorites

It was bound to happen. Yesterday’s reference to choosing one’s own funeral music has led to lengthier discussions.

I was comforted to discover I’m not the only healthy person to put a little thought into this. I view my funeral as one last opportunity to amuse my friends and still end the conversation with the last word.

My father said long ago that when he goes, he wants “Abide With Me” played on a bad cello with canaries singing in the  background. One last joke.

My mother—in comments to yesterday’s post—shared her funeral program plans du jour, which include both a Requiem and a Bruce Springsteen ballad.

In a chat with friends yesterday, one said she had her whole service planned. Another said she’d leave the details to her mourners, while preferring to focus on the wake.

Recently, while giving you my impressions of the final scene of Les Misérables, I shared that I’d be adding “Finale” to my funeral program. “Finale” isn’t just the reference to the musical’s closing number, but (spoiler alert) a commentary on the death experience.

I’ll say, I do have a few hymns picked out. Some come and go, but two definites remain, “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light” and “There’s Wideness in God’s Mercy,” but I don’t want the traditional version of the latter. The one I want is a different melody altogether. For the record, it’s #469 in the Episcopal Hymnal, not the more popular #470. Are we clear on that?

I’d like to avoid what happened at my mother-in-law’s funeral. As she was near the end of her life, she requested specifically that “How Great Thou Art” not be played. She hated that hymn. Guess what the organist played as the final hymn of the service? Personally, I love “How Great Thou Art.” A little overdone on the funeral circuit, but moving nonetheless.

Don’t hate me, but I’m not a fan of “Amazing Grace,” so let’s skip that one and leave more time to get to the potato salad.

Now, on to the after party. Some of the popular music I’ve chosen includes The Beatles’ “Let it Be,” Jackson Browne’s “Rock Me on the Water,” Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Natalie Cole’s “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)” and now, “Finale” from Les Miz. There are many others that come and go from the hopper.

We make these selections as if we have any control but truly, we are at the mercy of our loved ones, who may have a different agenda.

I remember a time when my son, who was seven or eight at the time, was really angry at me. He searched for the most hurtful thing he could think of to say, which was: “When you die, I’m gonna get up and sing ‘Go Go Power Rangers’ at your funeral!”

It still makes me laugh to imagine him as a middle-aged man in a suit and tie, standing at the church lectern and singing this thumping cartoon theme song to his mother. He will, after all, have the final say.

Your turn. What’s in your final playlist? Anyone have “Dust in the Wind?” “Last Train to Clarksville?”


Filed under Family and Friends, Music

11 responses to “Finale favorites

  1. Marty Welch

    Put me down for Poco’s Rose of Cimarron to be played as folks walk out of the church.

  2. Haven’t really given it much thought, although “Friends in Low Places” would hopefully make people laugh.

  3. Gayle

    I’ve always loved, Freddie Mercury/Queen’s “Who Wants to Live for Ever”.

  4. “Another One Bites the Dust” for me.

  5. Marty Welch


  6. dave

    Had always planned on the Spike Jones version of “Cocktails for Two” for whatever service might be held for me, but now I’m thinking I should have people humming when they leave, so perhaps I’ll add “Master of the House.”

  7. Penny

    “Quitting Time” by the Roches. I also think “Song of Purple Summer,” from the musical Spring Awakening, is pretty (though maybe another song from that show, “Totally F***ed,” would be more appropriate).

  8. Pat Abrams

    One of mine is “The Best Is Yet To Come” Hopefully God will honor this last request.

  9. I definitely want God Be In My Head (Episcopal Hymnal page 694), and I also love I Want to Walk As a Child of the Light. I definitely do not want any of those hymns like Abide With Me, How Great Thou Art, Amazing Grace, etc. I can’t think of any pop songs because I usually don’t listen to pop unless I’m visiting my granddaughters. Maybe I’d want them to play Bob Dylan’s Forever Young, just for the irony.

  10. John Taylor

    When Karen and I were in high school and Def Leppard was popular, we somehow ended up in a conversation with my dad about what music he wanted played at his funeral. Not being in touch with the rock music of the day, Dad said he wanted us to play “Rock of Ages.” We were familiar with the hymn, but we couldn’t help busting out with laughter. Dad learned some Def Leppard that day. He even listened to the whole song, which we still consider to be an accomplishment.

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